Help me out: Where do I go next?


What should I learn or practice? I've recently learned chess and after making good progress, I've stalled out at about 1100 (blitz).

Some background: During the lockdown, on a whim, I decided to learn chess. I knew the rules and played the odd game here and there, but had never done anything past that before the lockdown. So I joined, when through the all the online classes except Mastery, and was making good progress until I stalled out at 1100.

So where do I go to make progress? Playing lots of games doesn't really do it. I fluctuate between 1050 and 1150. Do I dig really deep into some openings? Should I learn some more openings, go wider instead of deeper? I currently play Queen's Gambit for White and the French Defense or Queen's Gambit declined for Black with good success, but it's not as if I've mastered every variation. Do I spend a lot of time practicing tactics? Go through the tactics in the Mastery section? More time with puzzles? Keep playing games and be patient? Help me out community!

tjm024000 wrote:

Playing lots of games doesn't really do it. I fluctuate between 1050 and 1150. 

Playing lots of BLITZ doesn't do it.

Blitz is for fun. Slow games are for improvement.

tjm024000 wrote:


Do I spend a lot of time practicing tactics? Go through the tactics in the Mastery section? More time with puzzles? Keep playing games and be patient?

Yes, yes and yes. Do puzzles. (Not puzzle rush, that's for fun only.) Go for 100% pass rate. I can see that you are below 50% pass rate, that's awful. Spend more time. Think and calculate. Analyze the problems that you fail.

Also, play some slower games. Also, watch some educational videos, there are plenty on youtube.

As for openings: openings don't matter at your level. Only opening principles are important: fight for the center, develop your pieces and castle. Games are decided in the middle game.


To summarize what I've been hearing from this thread and from PMs, slow games, tactics / puzzles, and I've gotten some specific learning resources. A follow up question for those of you recommending slow games. Do you mean slow live games, or daily games, or either?. I play a decent amount of daily games, but not many 30 min games, or things like that. The only thing about the daily games is that I have so much time to think about the moves that it almost feels like cheating, especially with the analysis board. But then again, maybe that's good for learning. As a side note, I definitely need to get better at puzzles, but I don't know about 100%. Sometimes I disagree with the solution, not that it's wrong but that a different move is equivalent...but maybe that's just me.


@tjm024000, the key is to give yourself enough time to...

  • Scan the whole board.
  • Identify undefended / underdefended pieces and weaknesses.
  • Spot any threats.
  • Get clear in your mind about what changed with your opponent's last move.
  • Try to spot what your opponent is trying to achieve with that move.
  • Come up with at least two candidate moves.
  • Evaluate which will leave you in the strongest position, and your opponent weaker, ideally.

If you don't have enough time to do that, you simply need to play longer time controls. Much better to play one 60-minute game per day than 12 x 5-minute blitz games.


Personally, I don't like daily games. Go with rapid time controls like 15+10, 30-min, or even 60-min.


100% on puzzles is very difficult. I do the rated puzzles. My puzzle rating is about 1375. In practice this means the engine gives me puzzles from roughly 900 to 1600. I once had a 2300. If you are regularly trying to solve puzzles 200 to 300 points harder than your ability this is great studying but you will get some wrong so dont worry about it. For puzzles, attempts to solve them in your head before making the moves. You should be confident that you have found the right solution. There may be more than one solution on the board and the correct answer is the strongest solution usually mate or a material advantage. Aim to get the puzzle right first time. Ignore the clock. Your calculation, visualisation, and evaluation skills will improve tremendously over 6 months if you do a few puzzles a day and you will start to find better tactics and positions in your game.


if you aren't familiar with the basic tactics then use the puzzle learning tool to train your pattern recognition. but my feeling is training simple pattern recognition is different to calculation and visualisation so also practice harder puzzles.


A good idea to get better is play against the computer on practice mode. It helps you see good moves and how to play them, as long as you think about the moves that are recommended instead of just playing them